In one of the more dramatic meetings in recent memory, the newly installed 2013-2014 LAUSD School Board selected Dr. Richard Vladovic (standing, left) as its next President by a vote of 5 to 2.
Newly sworn-in Board member Monica Ratliff joined Steve Zimmer, Marguerite LaMotte, Bennett Kayser and Vladovic himself in the majority. Outgoing Board President Monica Garcia nominated and voted for Tamar Galatzan, who received two votes.
Pre-meeting rumors had Zimmer neck and neck with Vladovic, but those turned out to be off the mark, as Zimmer was never nominated. Neither Galatzan nor Mayor Garcetti (rumored to be working behind the scenes) were able to persuade Zimmer or Ratliff to break from the bloc of independent and/or union-allied Board members.
In an especially moving moment, Ratliff was sworn in by her mother, first in Spanish and then in English. By the time it was over, Ratliff’s mom was sobbing, and Ratliff’s eyes were filled with tears.
Garcia, in her speech, praised Ratliff and noted that she was the “seventh Latina to serve on the board in a hundred years.”
Zimmer’s speech lasted upwards of 20 minutes and included a passionate denunciation of “corporate greed,” which he said is trying to take over public education.
“We should never be data driven,” he said, “We should be data informed… We should avoid the seduction of easy answers.”
But the main event was unquestionably the vote for Board President, the outcome of which no one seemed to be able to predict.
Marguerite LaMotte interrupted Superintendent John Deasy in order to nominate Vladovic. Monica Garcia then nominated Tamar Galatzan.
Perhaps surprisingly, no one nominated Steve Zimmer.
Then, just as Deasy was about to call for a vote, Ratliff interrupted to move that both candidates make a speech about their priorities.
Vladovic offered a policy-focused speech, calling for the restoration of funding to adult education, as well as a new public relations campaign.
“I want to work very hard on the image of this district,” said Vladovic.
Galatzan’s speech focused more on process, saying she wanted to fix the public comment system. She also pointed out that she was “a big supporter of our new mayor Eric Garcetti. Having that strong relationship is going to be vitally important.”
Vladovic had endorsed Garcetti’s opponent, Wendy Greuel.
Sources have said that in the last month, Mayor Garcetti was working behind the scenes to get either Galatzan or Zimmer elected as President of the Board. If Garcetti did indeed ask Board members to vote for Galatzan, today’s vote is an early sign that his influence on the Board will be limited.
In her remarks, Galatzan appealed directly to Zimmer and Ratliff, who were clearly the two swing votes. Galatzan needed both of them to win. Vladovic needed just one — and in the end he got both.
After the speeches, Deasy again asked for a vote, and again Ratliff interrupted to ask the candidates who they would choose as their Vice President. Vladovic said Zimmer; Galatzan said she would ask Ratliff herself.
In the end, the Board voted 5-2 for Vladovic, who then stepped to the center of the dais to chair the rest of the meeting.
A recent Daily News story revealed that Vladovic is under investigation for harassment by the district. However, as the LA Times noted today, some Vladovic allies have suggested that the leak came from Superintendent Deasy himself or someone authorized by him to do so.
Board members Monica Garcia, Steve Zimmer and Monica Ratliff were all sworn in for four-year terms.
As promised, Dr. Vladovic chose Zimmer as his Vice President.